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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Birds ▸ OwlView Options:  |  |  |   

Owls on Ancient Coins

Owls are depicted on many different ancient coin types but the most prolific types are the coins of ancient Athens. The ancient slang names for the coins of Athens were "owls" (but in Greek of course) and "girls" (referring to Athena on the obverse, also in Greek). "Owls" were so popular as a central currency of the ancient world that the design remained essentially unchanged and somewhat archaic long after other cities began to produce coins of a more refined artistic style. "Owls" of Athens are still very popular. For collectors, they are perhaps the most popular ancient coin type.


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SH86607. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, Choice EF, a few light bumps and marks, weight 17.155 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $2000.00 (1700.00)


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SL86746. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC XF, strike 4/5, surface 4/5 (4280036-004), weight 17.14 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $1650.00 (1402.50)


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SH86608. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, Choice gVF, well centered and struck on a tight flan, small edge split and crack, bumps and marks, some die wear, weight 17.136 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, die axis 315o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $1400.00 (1190.00)


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
GS86603. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, well centered on a tight flan, no test cuts, banker's marks, weight 17.171 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $1000.00 (850.00)


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SH86507. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, well centered on a tight flan, nice toning, banker's marks, light marks, die wear and cracks, small edge cracks, weight 17.07 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; $900.00 (765.00)


Athens, Greece, New Style Tetradrachm, c. 100 - 99 B.C.

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The owl is surrounded by magistrates' names and symbols. The amphora is marked with a letter that may indicate the month of production. Letters in the exergue may indicate the source of the silver used in production.
SL35724. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson 861d; cf. Svoronos Athens pl. 61, 1 (same magistrates); SNG Munchen 215 (same); HGC 4 1635; magistrates Dositheos, Charias, and Dion, NGC Choice VF, strike 4/5, surface 2/5, smoothing (2490379-008), weight 15.913 g, maximum diameter 28.2 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, 100 - 99 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena Parthenos right, triple-crested helmet decorated with curvilinear ornament on the shell, griffin (or Pegasus?) flying right above the raised earpiece, and protomes of horses above visor; reverse owl stands right on amphora, A−ΘE divided by owl's head, above magistrates names ∆Ω−ΣI/ΘEO−Σ / XAP/IAΣ / ∆IO in five divided lines across field; control symbol in right field: Tyche standing half left, long scepter vertical in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; ∆ on amphora, AΠ below; NGC certified (slabbed); $800.00 (680.00)


Athens, Greece, Pi-Style III Tetradrachm, 353 - c. 340 B.C.

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The name Pi-style refers to the floral helmet ornament on the obverse which resembles the Greek letter pi (P) bisected by a long central tendril.
SH86206. Silver tetradrachm, Kroll Pi-Style p. 244, fig. 8; Flament p. 126, 3; SNG Cop 63; SNG Munchen 96; SNG Delepierre 1479; Svoronos Athens pl. 20: 2, Choice VF, well centered on a tight flan typical of the type, toned, bumps and marks, weight 17.153 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, 353 - c. 340 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right with eye seen in true profile, wearing crested helmet ornamented with three olive leaves and pi-style floral scroll, pellet in ear; reverse owl standing right, head facing, pellet over eyes, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $800.00 (680.00)


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
GS86606. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, tight flan, light toning, edge cracks, no test cuts, weight 17.139 g, maximum diameter 25.3 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $800.00 (680.00)


Mesopotamia, Levant, Arabia, or Egypt, Imitative Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 450 - 350 B.C.

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From Mesopotamia, across the Levante and Arabia, to Egypt, Persian satraps and local rulers struck imitative Athenian type tetradrachms. Some were struck with styles much different from the Athenian originals. Some included monograms or inscriptions in Aramaic or other local scripts. The style of this coin is close to the original Athenian but unusual enough that we are convinced it is an imitative. In particular, Athena's face is distorted and the owls eyes are unusually large.
GS86605. Silver tetradrachm, cf. Dewing 1622; SNG Cop 40; Svoronos Athens pl. 17, 18; SNG Munchen 56; HGC 4 1597; SGCV I 2526, gVF, centered on a tight flan, bumps and marks, punch on obverse, banker's mark on reverse, tiny edge cracks, weight 17.243 g, maximum diameter 24.6 mm, die axis 225o, unofficial mint, c. 450 - 350 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves into ear; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $750.00 (637.50) ON RESERVE


Athens, Greece, Old Style Drachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

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Struck during Athens' Golden Age, a time when great thinkers, writers, and artists flourished in the city. Herodotus, the father of history, lived and wrote in Athens. Socrates, the father of philosophy, taught in the marketplace. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, practiced there. The sculptor Phidias created his great works for the Parthenon on the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Democritus envisioned an atomic universe. Aeschylus, Euripedes, Aristophanes, and Sophocles wrote their famous plays and Pindar his Odes. This legacy would continue as, later, Plato would found his Academy outside the walls of Athens in 385 B.C. and, later, Aristotle would found his Lyceum in the city center.
GS86581. Silver drachm, SNG Cop 41; Kroll 10; Dewing 1601; Svoronos pl. 11, 20; HGC 4 1631, VF, well centered and struck, die wear, porosity, weight 4.153 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves & floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair across forehead in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, to left olive sprig and crescent, all within incuse square, AΘE downward on right; scarcer denomination; $450.00 (382.50)




  



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